Raiola defends Ibrahimovic against LeBron

Agent Mino Raiola defended Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic for speaking out against basketball star LeBron James in February. ‘Athletes and politics should not mix.’

In an interview with UEFA and Discovery+ in Sweden, the 39-year-old centre-forward had something to say about basketball hero LeBron James and others who use their platform as sports stars to fight for social change.

Agent Mino Raiola defended Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic for speaking out against basketball star LeBron James in February. ‘Athletes and politics should not mix.’

In an interview with UEFA and Discovery+ in Sweden, the 39-year-old centre-forward had something to say about basketball hero LeBron James and others who use their platform as sports stars to fight for social change.

 “I was not surprised,” Raiola told The Athletic. “He has a strong belief that politics and sport don’t go together and that athletes should unite people, not divide people.

“I told Zlatan 25 years ago, ‘You need to be strong with the strong and weak with weak — not strong with the weak, or weak with the strong’.

“It means that if you have something to say, you cannot say it only to the little trainer. You say it to someone like Sir Alex Ferguson. So, he said it this time to LeBron James because obviously, he’s an icon. And Zlatan is too.”

But the Milan forward’s comments sparked controversy, as LeBron replied to the Sweden international, but Raiola claimed Zlatan never intended for it to become part of a political discussion between two stars.

“Zlatan is convinced that athletes and politics should not mix. He doesn’t want to be turned and torn into politics. And I think that is right, because, for example, I don’t agree that there should be pressure on players to condemn the Qatar World Cup or make a statement about it.

“The players were not the ones who chose Qatar for a World Cup. They are not part of FIFA. So why should they make a statement now when the players only want to do the best on their highest platform, which is the World Cup?”

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